Direct Access to Functional (Meth)Acrylate Copolymers ThroughTransesterification with Lithium Alkoxides

Fleischmann, C., Anastasaki, A., Gutekunst, W. R., McGrath, A. J., Hustad, P. D., Clark, P. G.,Laitar, D. S., Hawker, C. J.
J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem.
2017
55, 1566–1574

A straightforward and efficient synthetic method that transforms poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) into value-added materials is presented. Specifically, PMMA is modified by transesterification to produce a variety of functional copolymers from a single starting material. Key to the reaction is the use of lithium alkoxides, prepared by treatment of primary alcohols with LDA, to displace the methyl esters. Under optimized conditions, up to 65% functionalization was achieved and copolymers containing alkyl, alkene, alkyne, benzyl, and (poly)ether side groups could be prepared. The versatility of this protocol was further demonstrated through the functionalization of both PMMA homo and block copolymers obtained through either radical polymerization (traditional and controlled) or anionic procedures. The scope of this strategy was illustrated by extension to a range of architectures and polymer backbones.